Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The trial against Radovan Karadzhich in the Hague has been adjourned

Adelina Marini, October 26, 2009

The International War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague adjourned the case against the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzhich. The trial has started today, accompanied by the protests of some 50 relatives to the victims of the war in Bosnia (1992-1995). Karadzhich kept his promise to boycott the trial because he said he was innocent on most of the charges in massacre of at least 7,000 Bosnian Muslims (boshnyaks), for the shelling over Saraevo during the 44-days siege of the Bosnian capital when 12,000 civilians were killed.

Likewise the former Serbian president Slobodan Miloshevich, Karadzhich also rejects being represented by a lawyer because he insists to defend on his own. It is expected that the tribunal in the Hague to decide tomorrow whether to impose an official defence. Beside this it is also possible the trial to start in his absence if he is to boycott the session once more.

The 64-year old Karadzhich was arrested last year in Serbia after 13 years of hiding. He was found fully disguised and totally unrecognizable - with a long beard, entirely white hair and glasses with thick rims. He had been hiding undisturbed under the nose of the police, presenting himself as an alternative medicine doctor.

The trial against Karadzhich in the Hague is beginning against the background of mounting instability in the multi ethnic international protectorate Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the main obstacles for the gradual removal of the international high representation in the country, are the changes in the constitution. The international community is calling for years the politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina to achieve consensus about the constitutional changes that would improve the effectiveness and the functioning of the very sluggish governing system of the country.

The reason for the conflict is the wish of the Boshnyaks the two autonomous areas in th country to be abolished because this would give Bosnia and Herzegovina the opportunity to join the EU as a united state. The Bosnian Croats support the Muslim community but insist on getting their own area in case the ethnic division is to be kept. However, the Bosnian Serbs are firmly against any measures that might influence the greater autonomy they have. This led to doubts among the other ethnic communities, that the Bosnian Serbians are preparing the ground for a secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina and annexation to Serbia.

Against this background, how the trial against Radovan Karadzhich will go ahead. It is also important to see whether Serbia will succeed in keeping its promise to find and turn over to the tribunal in the Hague the military commander of the Bosnian Serbs Ratko Mladich who is hiding for years.

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